No matter how old you are, where you live, eat, breath, work, or play we all desire the one “holy grail” that is happiness. There have been books written on the subject; there are “experts” that charge you an arm and a leg just to hear them talk about how you too can be happy; there is even a movie purposely misspelled that highlights one man’s journey as he pursues his own “happyness“. But all the psychotherapists, psychologists, or even psychiatrists with their many types of mind altering drugs that warp the brain into thinking it’s happy have nothing on what I have come to know as the three keys to my own personal happiness.
Now I’m no Doctor or expert, and by no means should this post be taken seriously or as a replacement for the therapy you are (or are not) receiving. In fact, I have nothing but complete respect for all those professionals and educated individuals that work with others to find their own happiness. What I am about to tell you are the three things that I constantly work to hold in utmost importance that truly bring me personal happiness. For with these three keys to happiness I myself feeling confident, secure, and fully capable of taking on any challenge life throws at me.
I also know that everyone is unique, and what may make me happy may not make you, your friend, or your family member happy. So read the following with the clear understanding that this is MY happiness and the 3 keys that contribute solely to that happiness. Hopefully you will be inspired to find your own 3 keys, or perhaps just one or many keys that contribute to your personal happiness.
A Really Awesome Car
Yes you read that right. The first of three keys to personal happiness is a really awesome car.
Now mind you, that awesome car should be the one car that fits your personality, your needs, and your lifestyle. As one of the marketing team at usedcars.com I would find myself in many discussions with my team deciphering what users are looking for when buying a car. We often found ourselves coming to the conclusion that buying a car is like dating. That we, as individuals, seek out that perfect match for the different stages and phases of our lives. As young teenagers driving for the first few years we find ourselves in that old beater our parents buy us, or we save up to buy with our own hard earned money. We aren’t picky about the color, the 0-60 rating, or even how much gas the thing guzzles up. All we care about is that it can successfully get us from point A to point B. Yet each time we open that screechy old door and pray that the battery works this time as we turn the key over, we find ourselves staring at the other car in the parking lot with the shiny new chrome, new car smell, and black as night tires. We dream of the perfect car that serves the purpose of our job, our lifestyle, our hobbies, activities, friends, and family that gets us around in style all the same. Later in life we end up with something more “practical”. That reliable automobile that fits the spouse and kids while saving us as much money as possible in car payments and gas. Yet we still find ourselves looking at that hot new car that just whizzed past us wishing that someday we could be the one behind that wheel. Some of us keep dreaming, and some of us actually end up with the car that fits our lifestyle and turns heads at the same time.
I myself have gone through many phases of my life, and the one car that just seems to fit and make me happy at the same time is the Mini Cooper. Sure I have needed more “practical” cars at times that fit my briefly larger family, or just get me from point A to point B so that I could pay the rent and bills. At the moment the Mini Cooper fits my needs as I drive long distances to meetings, attempt to find parking in the city, drive up to corporate office buildings for meetings, haul the grain to the barn for the horses, and transporting the one kid still working towards graduating High School. With a value on my 2008 model of $12k and a gas mileage of ~40 miles to the gallon, my little car not only gets me around in style but also fits my budget. Not to mention the Thule rack that holds my bike and kayaks to keep me active and my mind refreshed. Oh, and let’s not forget the rush that comes when some douche-bag comes sailing up behind me and attempts to pass. I just drop that manual transmission to a lower gear and wave goodbye as his car gets smaller and smaller in my rear view mirror.
Yup, my little car fills up my tank with happiness while boosting my confidence, reducing stress, and providing a practical need all in the same.
A Hobby and/or Activity
As a young girl I found solitude in the combination of my one true hobby of producing artwork. Whatever it may be, the process of creating something whether it be a simple sketch, a cartoon, a complete oil painting that took months to perfect or a photograph I spent hours developing in the dark room, I found myself staring at my finished works in awe of what I had completed. I also enjoyed the look on my Mother’s face as she seemingly appeared to be proud of what I had accomplished through my talents. My friends would ask me to create for them, and my family enjoyed receiving such items as gifts in lieu of spending money on some trinket made by some unknown.
In addition to my artwork, I also had time to enjoy my favorite activity of horseback riding. Any crazy horse girl understands the feeling you get when you arrive at the barn to hear the sound of hoofs in the stalls and pastures followed by sneezing and the occasional whinnying. Walking up to your horse embracing their head into your arms before leading them out to brush and tack them up is the start to the calmness that overcomes you. Soon your mind goes blank aside from all that surrounds you at that moment. Just you and your horse become all that your senses consume, from the smells, sounds, sights, and touch.
As horses are expensive and creating art became a thing of the past I picked up other hobbies that would calm me. From hiking, biking, traveling, cooking, baking, video gaming, or even just spending quality time with my young children. Whatever it was that I could escape to if only for a few minutes, became the maintenance of my sanity.
Research has found that engaging in enjoyable activities during down time were associated with lower blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference, and body mass index. So it’s proven that engaging in activities also correlated to higher levels of positive psychosocial states and lower levels of depression and negative affect.
A Very Comfy Bed
Yes, it’s that simple. The #1 most important key to personal happiness is the ultimate in comfy bedding. Whether you are the type of person that enjoys sleeping on a hard floor, one of those fancy beds that don’t move on the opposite side your significant other is jumping around on, the bed full of air that you can change with your mood, or the trifecta of fluffiness of the down comforter, down pillow, and feather fluffed mattress topper your bed is the one thing that ends your day and begins your next.
I myself have traveled often for work and sampled many types of beds.I experienced many trips away for business knowing the expense of the hotel was being charged to my corporate card, the quiet, the deep nap after a long day of traveling, the room service ordered my first night, and waking up the next morning refreshed after enjoying a night in the faint smell of freshly bleached sheets. Even those dive hotels that have mattresses that you know have seen more moves than a graphic sex novel have oddly provided a sense of comfort for an evening.
After a day or two away from home I begin to miss my children, my pets, my family, and my friends to the point that no matter how much I loved that bed when I arrived, I couldn’t wait to leave it. When I would get home to the stale boring bed I left, I would have a whole new found love and appreciation for it as that something familiar welcoming me back to all that I hold dear.
I once met a woman that spent many years in the Peace Corps on a small Island tell me about her bed there. She slept on a woven palm mat on the white sand in a small hut near the beach. She talked about how hard it was getting used to at first, but after time she came to accept it. After a year on the Island she briefly returned home for a few month break with her family. She began to despise her American bed that was high off the ground and didn’t support her in the way her sand had come to. Her first morning home she found herself on the floor in an attempt to mimic the simple bed she had grown to love.
Let’s not forget the importance of sleep itself. Studies have shown that sleep not only makes you feel better, but its importance goes way beyond just boosting your mood. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more. No matter where you are in life, what you are going through, who surrounds you during the day or night, you will always end and begin your day with your bed. If you can’t be happy with that material that supports you most than you just won’t be happy period.
So there you have it, the 3 keys to personal happiness according to Jenn. Take these three as you will, or come up with your own three. Maybe you have one more to add to the list, or perhaps have quite a few keys to your life that truly provide the ultimate in happiness. Whatever they may be, never forget them, and always hold them near for happiness is worth more than any gold, diamonds, oil, or whatever the world finds valuable these days.